The COVID-19 vaccine is finally here—but doctors say there are some people who should wait. Here’s what you need to know about who’s a good candidate, and who isn’t.
The answer is nearly everyone should be vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible now that we finally have new COVID-19 vaccines. When enough people get the vaccine, we’ll achieve herd immunity—in other words, the small number of people who can’t get the shot will still have protection because the virus won’t be able to spread as easily. Reaching herd immunity is crucial because not everyone is a good candidate to receive the vaccine. Here’s how to know if you or a loved one is among that group.
8. Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?
That’s a strong yes: The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have enough safety data to satisfy the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval requirements. Plus, they’ve passed through committees like the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an expert group that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Find out what it’s like to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.)
You may have heard some ludicrous COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories, but you can comfortably dismiss them. Look at the data, not social media, advises Sharon Nachman, MD, the chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital who works in the COVID-19 vaccination pod. The evidence for both safety and efficacy of the vaccine is reassuring, she explains. (Here are other things doctors wish you knew about vaccines.)
7. Note for People Who Are Pregnant, Lactating, or Trying to Become Pregnant
Pregnant people were not in clinical trials for the vaccine, but studies in pregnant people are coming. The current two COVID-19 vaccines use messenger (mRNA), which means they carry genetic material to cells with instructions on how to make proteins. For now, experts believe that the mRNA vaccine is unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus because mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines, according to the CDC.
“The American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement in December 2020 that pregnant women and lactating women should both get the vaccine,” Dr. Nachman notes.
The Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine also recommends taking the vaccine, according to board-certified immunologist Purvi Parikh, MD, with Allergy & Asthma Network, who is also a co-investigator with the COVID-19 vaccine trials. “The reason being is that pregnancy is a high-risk condition for severe COVID-19 and the risks of not taking vaccine are worse than potential side effects,” Dr. Parikh says.
There are mixed reports on whether or not pregnant people should receive the vaccine, but Dr. Parikh and Allergy & Asthma Network are currently recommending vaccinations. (Here’s what pregnancy is like during coronavirus.)
Dr. Nachman believes both pregnant and lactating women should get the vaccine. “It will protect the pregnant woman, it does not cross the placenta, and the good news is that if those women make antibodies, the antibodies will cross the placenta and help protect the baby,” Dr. Nachman says. “And if they’re breastfeeding, it will also help protect their baby.”
Talk with your health care provider if you’re pregnant and are part of a recommended group to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, like a health care worker. However, there are some people who should definitely skip the COVID-19 vaccine.